Hydration: Why It’s So Important? by: familydoctor.org editorial staff

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Click on photo to go to the FamilyDoctor.org Website for more information.

Why is it so important to stay hydrated?

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Water is needed for good health.

How does my body lose water?

Water makes up more than half of your body weight. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot, when you are physically active, or if you have a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid water loss. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you can become dehydrated.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Symptoms of dehydration include the following:

Little or no urine, or urine that is darker than usual
Dry mouth
Sleepiness or fatigue
Extreme thirst
Headache
Confusion
Dizziness or lightheaded feeling
No tears when crying

Don’t wait until you notice symptoms of dehydration to take action. Actively prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water.

Who is at higher risk of dehydration?

People are at higher risk of dehydration if they exercise at a high intensity, have certain medical conditions, are sick, or are not able to get enough fluids during the day. Older adults are also at higher risk. As you get older, your brain may not be able to sense dehydration and send the signals for thirst.

You may need to increase the amount of water you are drinking if you:

Have certain medical conditions, such as kidney stones or bladder infection
Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Will be outside during hot weather
Will be exercising
Have a fever
Have been vomiting or have diarrhea
Are trying to lose weight

How much water should I drink each day?

You may have heard different recommendations for daily water intake. Most people have been told they should drink 6 to 8 8-ounce glasses of water each day, which is a reasonable goal. However, different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. Most healthy people can stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids whenever they feel thirsty. For some people, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Other people may need more than 8 glasses each day.
Here’s a good tip to follow: go by your body weight. Divide your body weight by 2 and that’s how many ounces of water to drink a day. For example: if a person weighs 50 lbs, then they should drink 25 ounces of water a day. If a person weighs 100 lbs, then they drink 50 ounces. A 200 lbs person drinks 100 ounces.

If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine is consistently colorless or light yellow, you are most likely staying well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.